Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Located on the southeast coast of Africa, Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975. This was followed by a 16-year-long civil war which ended in 1992. The two decades of peace and stability since have allowed Mozambique to make considerable progress in both social and economic spheres. However, since 2013, renewed political disputes have led to a resurgence of armed conflict in parts of central and southern Mozambique.
The country has a coastline of 2,500 km and three strategic ports linked to major transport corridors serving neighbouring landlocked countries. Endowed with rich natural resources, Mozambique has 36 million hectares of fertile land as well as rich ore deposits including coal, iron and other metals, gemstones and heavy minerals. The north of the country is rich in deposits of natural gas which can also be found along the central and southern coastlines.
The 2015 Human Development Index ranked Mozambique 180 out of 188 countries. With a population of 26.4 million, the adult literacy rate is 56 percent and average life expectancy at birth is just 53.4 years.
Current issues in Mozambique
Mozambique is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. It is highly vulnerable to extreme climatic conditions which destroy infrastructure and restrict economic growth. These climate shocks hinder efforts to achieve environmental sustainability and to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Although the southern and central regions are prone to drought, floods frequently occur along major river basins and in poorly-drained urban settlements. Two out of three people live in coastal areas and are vulnerable to rapid-onset disasters such as cyclones, storms and flash floods.
Food insecurity and malnutrition
Small-scale cultivation is the basis of Mozambique’s agricultural production and an important source of income for most rural households, particularly women. Harvests were poor and in some parts failed altogether in 2016 following a severe El Niño-related drought which affected all of southern Africa.
One-third of the Mozambican population is chronically food-insecure and half a million children aged 6-23 months are undernourished. Malnutrition among children remains alarmingly high at 43 percent under 5 years of age.
According to a report carried out by the Technical Secretariat for Food and Nutritional Security (SETSAN) in July 2016, the number of people facing acute food insecurity decreased from 1,498,928 in March to 1,423,031 in July. However, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis estimates that almost 2 million people will require food assistance during the 2016/17 period, due to low yields in the preceding harvest season. An unstable economic environment characterized by the devaluation of the currency (Metical) and high inflation of food prices have contributed to the food security crisis.
According to the UNAIDS Country Progress Report 2015, HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults aged 15 – 49 is 10.5 percent in Mozambique, contributing to increasing levels of vulnerability while disproportionately affecting young women.
Refugees and asylum seekers
For over two decades, the Government of Mozambique has provided a safe haven for asylum seekers and refugees from conflict-stricken countries in the region. Currently, Mozambique hosts over 14,800 asylum-seekers, the majority of whom originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia. More than 11,000 of those people live in Maratane camp, the country's only refugee camp, located in the Northern Province of Nampula. The camp registers 200 new arrivals each month – a figure likely to increase with the ongoing unrest in the East African region.
Following the violence of 2015/2016 in central and northern Mozambique, 8,000 - 10,000 Mozambican asylum seekers have fled into Malawi while about 3,300 Mozambicans have fled into south-eastern Zimbabwe to escape attacks by the militant organization Mozambican National Resistance. Many are living in makeshift camps in Zimbabwe, which already face food shortages.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Mozambique
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been active in Mozambique since 1977 and is committed to providing food assistance to at least 850,000 people by March 2017. Through its Country Programme (CP) and its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), WFP is currently responding to the drought through Food Assistance for Assets activities, general food distributions, emergency school meals and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition. The PRRO underpins the National Five-Year Plan 2015-2019 and the National Master Plan for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Calamities. These identify national and local actions for vulnerability reduction and emergency response and annual contingency plans which are prepared in response to forecast climate scenarios.
WFP is supporting the Ministry of Education and Human Development through a four-year transition period towards a nationally owned, funded and managed home-grown school meals programme integrated into the social protection framework.
WFP is supporting food-insecure families with food or cash transfers during seasonal gaps in return for participation in labour aimed at supporting community livelihoods. Vulnerable people unable to engage in productive work receive unconditional food/cash transfers, complementing other essential services delivered by civil society associations.
WFP supports the Ministry of Health in the development of sustainable systems for integrating nutrition services into the national health system over the longer term, the implementation of activities under the National Nutritional Rehabilitation Programme and support for the coordination and implementation of the Multi-sectorial Action Plan to Reduce Chronic Malnutrition.
WFP works to strengthen the capacity of the National Directorate of Disaster Management (INGC) and the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) in risk analysis and mapping, early warning, and food and nutrition security analysis.
WFP facilitates access to markets and the development of smallholder producer and processor capacity by increasing marketing infrastructure, market information, and improving commodity quality.
Food assistance to refugees
WFP’s Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) provides food assistance in support of response and early recovery activities, targeting disaster-affected as well as displaced persons who have sought refuge in Mozambique due to adverse conditions in the region. Since May 2011, WFP has been supporting the refugees and asylum seekers in Maratane camp in partnership with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the National Institute for Refugee Assistance (INAR). WFP currently provides monthly food assistance to 8,750 refugees and asylum-seekers, 52 percent of whom are women.
El Niño response
WFP’s response to the El Niño-induced drought started in September 2016 and currently covers 11 districts in four provinces. The increase in food insecurity across most of the country may lead to the emergency response being expanded to more districts and in the south and north.
Featured Mozambique publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Mozambique? Visit the Mozambique publications archive.